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Waste: Exports

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to penalise (a) local authorities and (b) companies found to be illegally exporting refuse and recycling abroad.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations set out offences in relation to the shipment of waste and provide that a person found guilty of an offence can be fined and/or imprisoned for up to two years. The regulations are enforced by the UK’s competent authorities which will take appropriate action against any illegal activity.

The UK has a robust approach to enforcing these controls. The UK environmental regulators take a pro-active, intelligence led approach to checking compliance, targeting exports which pose a high risk and intervening to stop illegal exports taking place. In 2017/18, the Environment Agency issued 158 stop notices, prohibiting the export of unsuitable waste. It stopped 367 containers of waste destined for illegal export at ports and intervened further upstream to prevent 8,974 tonnes of waste from reaching our ports.

After exports are stopped, the costs associated with returning a waste shipment that is found to be unfit for export to the site of origin for further treatment can be a significant cost to the exporter. This prevents illegal exports and makes sure that the waste is recovered or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

I have asked the Environment Agency to contact you with more information on their enforcement activities and the letter will be placed in the Library.

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